~ Niharika Khanal, Youth Champion
During the 3 days of Youth Advocacy Institute (YAI) of ASAP and YoSHAN, which in itself was an enthralling experience, we were shown two movies viz, Dirty Dancing and Hysteria. Both of the movies symbolized women, who were an exception to what the society considered ideal. Despite set in different times with completely different story lines, I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between the two.
Dirty Dancing revolved around a girl who was quite different than the others in her belief and ambition. Unlike the other girls around her she didn’t get much bothered about her looks but was more invested in helping others and aimed to make the world a better place for everyone. She was privileged to have been born in a good family with a congenial atmosphere. She got the full support of her father in whatever she did until she went out of her to help another woman in need. The movie also features the romance between the protagonist and a man of lower status and the society’s stance on their relationship.
The second movie, Hysteria too focused on a similar female protagonist. Kind hearted and fierce, both at the same time, she was like no other woman of her time. She openly spoke of the rights of women and even speaks of the suffrage movement, which went to become one of the greatest revolutionary movement of all times and also brought along the first wave of feminism. She received little support from her family, but even this could not undermine her. Despite of the society considering her behavior inappropriate, she was amiable to those who actually listened to her and got to know her better.
Apart from the two protagonist the other similarities that I couldn’t miss was the portrayal of the protagonist’s sister in both the movies. The sister in both movies is shown as the stereotypical female of that time, more invested on their appearance and quite the opposite to their sisters. It seemed like the makers were trying to show the representation of the society’s ideal woman. These characters at times are used in the movies as a means of laughter. We as an audience too were quick to lambaste them and laugh at them. But what we didn’t spare time to think was that these females were raised to be so. They were simply acting as per their upbringing.
The final and the most striking similarity that hit me was the presentation of the father of the protagonist. In both the movies, the father seemed to have immense love for his family but the second his daughters set foot outside the boundaries he had set, the feeling of love was overtaken by anger and most importantly, embarrassment. What saddened me the most, is that even these movies that so nimbly put the concept of woman empowerment forward, did not bother to include the perspective of the mother in the movie. In fact even when Baby’s relation with Johnny was disclosed in the movie Dirty Dancing, her mother’s opinion regarding it is not shown. Thinking about it, the entire scene would have only taken at most two minutes of screen time. Was the role of the mother kept to a minimum, because it did not contribute to the development of the story line or because it simply held no importance to the makers. Isn’t a mother’s opinion regarding her daughter’s action to be deemed with equal value or is the father’s approval alone supposed to weigh enough. Despite strong message, these movies have still does not seem convincing enough on it’s claim to showcase empowerment.
Nevertheless, the movies did scale high on its entertainment quotient. The movie sessions were something I always looked forward to during the YAI. The discussions later enlivened the entire experience of watching the movie. It was interesting to note the different perspectives that we participants had on the same scene!